Over the course of the Avatar: The Last Airbender series, we meet several characters that further push the show’s story. Some of them appeared as side characters, with bigger roles to play eventually. Others seemed to have bigger implications but ended up just dropping the ball. The Jet Avatar connection cannot be separated because he helped to move the story forward so much.
In this article, we’ll take a look at Jet in Avatar, the leader of the Freedom Fighters, and how such a prominent hero would lose his oath so badly. We’ll also consider reasons why he should be tagged as a hero or tagged as one of the series’ secondary villains.
Jet (Avatar): Introduction
Jet first appears in Avatar: The Last Airbender in Season One, the Book of Water; Episode 10. In this episode, the team meets a charismatic teenager leading a band of rebels who are fighting against the Fire Nation. This charismatic leader of course is Jet, and although he seems to be on the same side as Team Avatar, Sokka distrusts him from the onset.
Katara, on the other hand, seems to be smitten by the rebel leader. She was very impressed with Jet’s skills, and Jet was impressed in her waterbending ability. They also sympathized with each other over losing family members to the Fire Nation.
Jet had a deep-seated grudge against the Fire Nation, particularly a group of raiders named the Rough Rhinos. This was because the Rough Rhinos attacked his village, killing both his parents and burning it down to the ground.
Ever since that day, he would despise the Fire Nation. Jet dedicated his life to stop them in any way he could. But his plans grew to become severe, even attempting to sacrifice innocent lives to fulfill his agenda.
Over the years, Jet formed a ragtag group of young Earth Kingdom refugees who had been displaced by the Fire Nation. He would call them the Freedom Fighters. He and this group spent their days troubling the fire nation and colonials on the outskirts.
They lived in forest treehouses. Jet had the ultimate plan to finally eradicate Fire Nation presence from the entire forest, so he came up with the plan to destroy the town’s dam. This would in turn flood the forest, and the nearby town, and wipe out whoever was in it.
Jet Meets The Avatar
One day, the freedom fighters looked for a distraction to take out a camp of Fire Nation soldiers. Coincidentally, Aang, Katara, and Sokka accidentally walked into the camp. The soldiers made to arrest Team Avatar, but Jet and the freedom fighters swooped in to save the day. Longshot knocked out the captain with a poisoned arrow, and the Freedom Fighters began fighting the soldiers.
The rest of his group followed suit, and combined with the bending powers of Team Avatar, were able to take out their opponents. At one point in the fight, Jet took out a soldier Sokka was fighting and told him that he had to be quicker when Sokka protested. When the fight ended, the two groups introduced themselves to each other. Katara became infatuated with the charismatic rogue, and Aang was happy to make new friends, but Sokka did not like him.
The Duke found barrels full of blasting jelly, and Pipsqueak found crates filled with jelly candy, both of which Jet called great scores and advised his group not to get the two mixed up. He invited Aang, Sokka, and Katara to dinner at his treehouse.
At dinner, Jet gave a humorous account of the battle to his followers. While Aang and Katara quickly grew to like the Freedom Fighters, Sokka’s dislike and distrust of Jet worsened, particularly because Jet painted him in a weaker light.
Eventually, we find that Sokka was right not to trust Jet. In truth, Jet planned to destroy an entire village to get rid of the Fire Nation, but he was also willing to hurt innocent villagers to do it. Luckily, Sokka was able to warn the villagers before it happened, and Team Avatar left a frozen Jet in disgust and disappointment.
We would see Jet appear in the second season, coming into the city around the same time that Zuko and Iroh were seeking refuge there. Jet asks Zuko to become a freedom fighter with him, but Zuko turns him down.
Later, Jet sees Iroh heat his tea using firebending and becomes obsessed with exposing them to the Earth Kingdom as firebenders. He ends up fighting Zuko in a swordfight but is arrested by the Dai Li.
Now, based on everything Jet had gone through, would it be fair to call Jet a villain since he attempted to kill innocents, or would it be fair to say that he was just a victim of the war? Let’s see why Jet is a hero who just lost his way and the reasons he’s not.
Reasons Why Jet is A Hero in Avatar
Here are reasons why Jet Avatar is one of the most pivotal heroes to the protagonists’ quest to change the world.
1. He Went To Ba Sing Se For A Second Chance
After the whole drama with the Avatar, we don’t see much of Jet for a long time until the second book in the Earth kingdom. Here, we see the freedom fighters, particularly Jet, Smellerbee and Longshot, and Duke, head to Ba Sing Se for a fresh start.
The mere fact that Jet realized his wrongdoings and disbanded the freedom fighters so he could refind his path is more than enough to show he was just a messed-up kid. And it may just have worked had he not seen Iroh heat his teacup.
2. Jet Avatar Overcame The Dai Li’s Hypnosis
After his arrest for attacking Iroh and Zuko at the tea shop, we see Jet try to convince the Ba Sing Se government that there were indeed firebenders in the city. Because Long Feng’s administration intended to make sure everyone within the wall did not know anything about the war, he had Jet brainwashed.
Set on Team Avatar by Long Feng, Jet eventually breaks the villain’s hold on him and turns the tide on his former controller. He even charges at him, attempting to take him down even though he knows the former is an accomplished earthbender.
3. He Merely Wanted To Defend The Earth Kingdom
All Jet ever wanted to do was make sure the Earth Kingdom was free from the Fire Nation’s abuse. He had already suffered greatly at their oppressor’s hands, so naturally, he wanted to make sure it never happened again. Unfortunately, he got obsessed with his mission, and he lost his way.
4. He Helped Team Avatar Locate The Dai Li’s Base
In Ba Sing Se, Jet proved to Aang and the rest of the team that he was back on their side, helping them find their way through the tunnels and to where the Dai Li operated from. Without him, they would have never been able to locate Appa as well and would have probably been successfully tricked into searching on Whaletail Island.
5. He Looked Out For Others Who Were Less Fortunate
The whole reason the Freedom Fighters were set up in the first place was to ensure that people who had no resources to themselves after attacks from the Fire Nation. From the onset, Jet genuinely cared about people, and we see this side of him on the ship taking passengers to Ba Sing Se when he hatches a plan to get good food from the kitchen. He even enlists Zuko in his quest to feed the hungry travelers.
Reasons Jet Avatar Is A Villain
Here are reasons we consider him a typical bad guy in the series
1. He Attacked Iroh In A Public Setting
This is one unforgivable thing that Jet did. Iroh is a fan favorite, even if he is indeed a Firebender and the former Dragon of The West. But he is also a lovely person, one who does not have a bad bone in his body, and Jet attacking him is just unacceptable. The older man just wanted to serve tea!
Even if he had noticed they were firebenders, he could have gone to the authorities. Instead, he attacks them hoping to force them to firebend.
2. He Didn’t Try To Avoid Civilian Casualties
The whole point of the Freedom Fighters was the people. However, Jet loses track of that, even going as far as trying to drown the innocent villagers of the town. All of this he does to get the fire nation out. He doesn’t care if the people get hurt or are killed; he is just blinded by hatred.
3. He Was Driven By Hatred
Jet was driven purely by hatred, and that negates any chance of him having a pure heart. He would have resorted to even murdering innocents to get his way. He demonstrates how deep his hatred runs when he attacks Zuko and Iroh. There are several people around, but he does not care about their safety. All he wants to do is get his way.
4. He Attacked The Avatar
Jet attacks Avatar when it is discovered that he is responsible for trying to drown the village people. He had already denied his involvement, but at some point, he attacks Aang so that he can’t be stopped. It doesn’t get more evil than that.
5. Jet Avatar Lied To Manipulate Others
People lie. Especially the characters in The Last Bender. All through its run, we are faced with a lie upon a lie, a testament that not everyone is honest/ even Aang lied at some point. But if there is anyone who lies the most, then it would have to be Jet.
He lied to Team Avatar, trying to get them to aid him in his vendetta against the fire nation. He also lied to his teammate Smellerbee, a lie that eventually ended in his arrest and even subsequent death.
However you see it, Jet fits the bill of a typical hero and villain at the same time. While most of his run on the series showed him as a bad person, his final moments held a bit of a redemption for him. He died helping the Avatar out.